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JCPenney CEO steps down, search for successor underway

By Huw Hughes

31 Dec 2020


JCPenney has announced that its CEO Jill Soltau has exited the company in the same month the business emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The iconic US department store chain’s new owners, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management, said they have started a search for a new CEO who should be “focused on modern retail, the consumer experience, and the goal of creating a sustainable and enduring JCPenney”.

Simon Property Group’s chief investment officer Stanley Shashoua has been appointed as interim CEO, effective 1 January.

It’s been quite the year for JCPenney. The company earlier this month emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy having completed its previously announced sale, under which Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management acquired substantially all of its retail and operating assets.

JCPenney begins search for new CEO

Like the majority of retailers across the US, JCPenney was forced to close its stores for months at a time due to lockdown restrictions earlier this year, adding to already difficult pre-Covid trading as the retailer struggled with slowing foot traffic amid growing competition from online rivals.

JCPenney filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-May, citing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business. It entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders of its first lien debt to reduce its outstanding debts and strengthen its financial position.

That same month, Neiman Marcus Group Inc., J.Crew Group Inc., and Stage Stores Inc. also filed for bankruptcy protection, while in the following months, Brooks Brothers and Lord & Taylor followed the same path.

On JCPenney's emergence from Chapter 11 this month, Brian Kingston, CEO of real estate at Brookfield Asset Management, said: “We are excited to help lead the turnaround of a storied institution while saving tens of thousands of jobs and continuing to serve over 35 million customers.”

Photo credit: JCPenney